What Is a Concussion from a Car Accident Worth? - Hensley Legal Group, PC

What Is a Concussion from a Car Accident Worth?

Car accidents are the top cause of unintentional harm in the United States, resulting in 5.4 million medically consulted injuries in 2021 alone.  Automotive injuries can take many forms, some of which may be readily apparent, such as broken bones, lacerations, and burns.  Other car accident injuries, like concussions, may not be visible to the […]

July 3, 2024

Car accidents are the top cause of unintentional harm in the United States, resulting in 5.4 million medically consulted injuries in 2021 alone.  Automotive injuries can take many forms, some of which may be readily apparent, such as broken bones, lacerations, and burns.  Other car accident injuries, like concussions, may not be visible to the naked eye, but their effects can sometimes be just as significant. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), traffic accidents inflict an estimated 292,202 concussions and traumatic brain injuries nationwide each year, sometimes necessitating extensive treatment that few could afford without assistance. 

You may be able to get that assistance if you pursue a personal injury case, but what is a concussion from a car accident worth?  Join us as we explore how concussion and mild traumatic brain injury settlements are calculated after collisions. 

What Is a Concussion? 

Before looking at concussions in monetary terms, we should clarify what we mean when we refer to a “concussion.”  From car accident to sports mishap to slip-and-fall, a host of everyday disasters have made the concussion one of the most common brain injuries in the world, affecting more than 3.5 out of every 1,000 people annually.  Nevertheless, concussions are more widely referenced than understood. 

The CDC defines a concussion as “a type of traumatic brain injury—or TBI—caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth” – essentially bouncing the brain around the inside of the skull, where it makes repeated contact with the cranium.  Inasmuch as concussions are seldom fatal, they tend to be characterized as “mild” injuries, though the consequences of a concussion can be quite serious.  Recent research has even suggested that an extreme concussion could increase the chances of developing dementia later in life by two to four times.

Unlike more obvious car accident injuries like fractures, there are no quickly accessible biomarkers or tests to prove definitively that someone has a concussion, though there are various signs and symptoms that could indicate a concussion after trauma to the head or body.  These may include: 

  • Loss of consciousness 
  • Headaches  
  • “Pressure” in the head 
  • Nausea and/or vomiting 
  • Dizziness 
  • Imbalance 
  • Clumsiness 
  • Blurred or double vision 
  • Sensitivity to light or noise 
  • “Ringing” in the ears (tinnitus) 
  • Sluggishness, haziness, fogginess, or grogginess 
  • Impaired concentration or memory 
  • Inability to recall events before, during, or after an accident 
  • Feeling “not right” or “down” (malaise) 
  • Dazed or stunned appearance 
  • Delayed responses 
  • Trouble with instructions 
  • Confusion 
  • Changes in behavior, mood, or personality 

Concussion symptoms will generally show up very soon after an injury, though sometimes hours or even days may pass before they surface.  Anyone involved in a car accident should be scrutinized for concussion indicators both right after the accident and again a few days later.  If the symptoms continue to worsen, he or she may need to be taken to an emergency room for observation, neurological examination, and diagnostic imaging to rule out a life-threatening head injury, such as a blood clot on the brain. 

Assuming that no deadly conditions are detected, the patient may be cleared to go home, where the main treatment for the concussion will be physical and cognitive rest, typically for about 24 to 48 hours following the injury.  At that point, low-risk activities may be resumed at work or at school, though a return to sports and other intensive activities should be postponed for at least a week. 

Around 80 percent of concussions resolve on their own over a period of seven to 14 days (10 days on average), though some patients may develop post-concussion syndrome, in which their symptoms endure for weeks, months, or even years to come, and may even be permanent.  In a case of post-concussion syndrome, more drastic medical and lifestyle interventions may be needed, such as regimens of physical, occupational, and speech therapy and psychological care, along with a leave of absence from work or school. 

The longer that your concussion or post-concussion symptoms last, the more punishing your economic hardship might be.  While the direct healthcare cost of a concussion treated solely in an emergency room could be as little as $800.10, the cost could be far more substantial when a concussion demands inpatient rehabilitation, which could run as much as $46,000.00 per stay.  And should a major concussion befall the primary breadwinner in a household, the subsequent loss of income could put a family on a path to fiscal ruin.  

Who Is Liable for a Concussion from a Car Accident? 

Fortunately, ruin could be averted by taking civil action against the individuals or entities who are liable for the incident that produced a concussion.  But exactly who is liable for a concussion from a car accident? 

The answer will depend upon the circumstances leading up to the car accident, though the list of candidates could include the driver who hit the plaintiff, the owner of his or her vehicle (if separate from the driver), and any company making use of that vehicle on the date of the car accident. 

Others could be culpable as well, such as a mechanic or outside servicing agent when an improper installation or repair precipitates a car accident or the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer of a defective car part that contributes to that accident.  And if road hazards make a car accident practically inevitable, the government body in charge of that road and any private contractors working for it might be held to account.  In some instances, multiple defendants might have varying degrees of legal liability for a single car accident, for which they might have varying degrees of financial liability too. 

In light of this inherent complexity, it is critical to identify everyone who may share blame for a concussion from a car accident within the time allotted by law, known as the Statute of Limitations.  A concussion sufferer who fails to file a lawsuit or resolve a claim before the Statute runs could be forever barred from obtaining full compensation. 

How Much Could Be Obtained for a Concussion from a Car Accident? 

The monetary strain of a concussion can be enormous.  However, as frustrating as this might be to hear, it is impossible to say in advance how much could be obtained for a concussion from a car accident.  While online research may turn up concussion-related settlements and verdicts ranging from $20,000.00 to as high as six figures or more, the reality is that every concussion is different, with different origins, different damages, and different avenues of recovery.   

How much you can get for your own car accident concussion will depend upon a variety of factors, including: 

  • Proof of fault – To secure any sort of verdict or settlement for your car accident concussion, you will have to prove that someone else was at fault for the car accident, and the extent to which you were at fault for the accident could reduce how much you might receive or prohibit you from receiving anything at all. 
  • Concussion severity – The severity of your concussion and the cost of its treatment will heavily influence what you could get for your case.  A mild concussion that only merits an emergency room visit and some bedrest will probably settle for a relatively low amount.  In contrast, your concussion or post-concussion syndrome settlement value could be much bigger if you are left with prolonged or even permanent cognitive impairment that requires ongoing treatment at a staggering price tag, even more so if your concussion comes with… 
  • Wage loss – The direct medical expense of a concussion may pale in comparison to the income that may be forsaken because of it.  Wages may be lost because the concussed is unable to work or because the parent, guardian, or even spouse of the concussed is forced to take off work to provide care, thereby stopping the flow of income needed to pay both medical and nonmedical bills alike. 
  • Insurance coverage – No matter how much the losses from a concussion may be in the abstract, the amount you can recover for that concussion will ultimately be capped by the applicable insurance coverage for the car accident that injures you.  For example, if you are injured in an Indiana car accident with a driver who only has the state minimum insurance coverage of $25,000.00 for bodily injury, you may not be able to recover more than $25,000.00 from that driver’s insurance company, regardless of how much your medical bills may be.  Alternatively, if you are injured in an accident with a semi-trailer insured by a commercial policy with limits of $1,000,000.00 or more for bodily injury, the coverage may be more than sufficient for your concussion claim. 

When your damages exceed a defendant’s insurance policy limits, or if that defendant has no insurance at all, you might be able to access other sources of insurance coverage, such as an uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) policy if one applies to the vehicle in which you were traveling when you got into an accident.  Additionally, you could try to go after a defendant’s personal assets, though someone with inadequate or nonexistent auto insurance is unlikely to have much in the way of assets either.  

At its heart, your personal injury case will come down to the total amount of your losses and the funds available to compensate you for those losses.  To arrive at an accurate assessment of your losses, you will need to paint a detailed portrait of your life before and after the concussion.  And you can only do this once you have completed your treatment and reached maximum medical improvement.  At that point, you could add up all of your medical bills and out-of-pocket expenses, the impact on your earnings and your anticipated earning potential, and the detriment to your overall well-being.   

After taking all of these factors into consideration, you may then be able to determine what your case should be worth.  But what you should get for your case is not necessarily what you can get for your case, which will be bounded by the insurance coverage and assets of the defendants, along with any other means of recovery that might apply.  Sometimes these funds will be more than enough for a settlement that reflects your case’s true value, while they could fall short at other times.   

Either way, you will not be able to know with any certainty how much could be obtained for a concussion from a car accident until you have all of this information.  With this in mind, you should always be wary of any lawyer who promises you a specific dollar amount, especially in the immediate aftermath of your car accident, since such a promise may be naïve or dishonest.  

Do You Need an Attorney for a Concussion from a Car Accident? 

This raises an important question: Do you even need an attorney for a concussion from a car accident?  While you may be entitled to represent yourself, there are good reasons why you may not wish to do so.   

Most of the remuneration for your car accident injuries will come from the insurance companies for the defendants, who will have no incentive to simply turn over what you believe you are owed.  Instead, you will need to enter into negotiations with veteran insurance adjusters before you can receive a settlement, and your inexperience could put you at a notable disadvantage. 

This may be your first car accident, but it won’t be the first for any insurance adjuster assigned to your case, who could exploit your unfamiliarity with the process to settle your claim for less or even deny it outright.  And while the adjuster would have the upper hand in negotiating any kind of car accident injury claim, his or her position could be even stronger when you are saddled with a concussion that has dulled your mental faculties. 

How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Make a Difference 

This is where retaining a knowledgeable car accident lawyer can make a difference.  Just like your car accident won’t be the first for the insurance adjuster, it won’t be the first for your attorney either.  Your lawyer will be better equipped to meet the insurance company on a level playing field and counter the standard tactics used to minimize claims, which is why the verdicts and settlements for personal injury plaintiffs with attorneys are 3.5 times higher than the ones for plaintiffs without representation. 

Your attorney will also be better equipped to evaluate your case and will work to get you compensated for all of your losses, both short-term and long-term.  This is particularly crucial for car accident concussions, where the symptoms may only emerge gradually over time.  A plaintiff who accepts a settlement offer that seems “reasonable” in the early days of a neurological injury may have nowhere to turn if unforeseen complications pop up later on, whereas a plaintiff with a skilled lawyer will hold out for a settlement that reflects the entire spectrum of his or her losses from the concussion, which may include: 

  • Past, present, and future medical bills 
  • Lost wages 
  • Decreased earning capacity 
  • Pain and suffering 
  • Mental trauma
  • Diminished quality of living 
  • Mobility restrictions 
  • Loss of consortium 
  • Punitive and wrongful death damages (if relevant) 

And while a denial from the insurance company might halt you in your tracks, it will not halt your car accident attorney, who will know the most effective arguments for countering the insurer’s objections and the evidence that must be procured to support them, such as:  

  • Police reports  
  • Citations and dispositions  
  • Crash scene photos 
  • Dash cam, traffic light, and surveillance footage  
  • Black box data  
  • Eyewitness statements  
  • Phone records  
  • Driving histories 
  • Vehicle inspection logs  
  • Forensic analysis and accident reconstruction  

When confronted with a rock-solid case that conveys both the insured’s liability and the plaintiff’s damages, a prudent adjuster will often decide to reverse a denial in order to circumvent a less favorable outcome at trial.  But if your case should need to go to trial, a battle-tested lawyer will be indispensable.  While a University of Chicago study has found that personal injury plaintiffs who represent themselves in court lose their cases about 96 percent of the time, plaintiffs with attorneys are statistically more likely to prevail at trial than not, though how much is awarded will depend upon on how compellingly a lawyer can present the facts of a case before a judge and jury. 

If you are reluctant to commit to more expenditures after your concussion has made you spend so much already, you should know that most car accident lawyers, including the seasoned car accident attorneys at Hensley Legal Group, work on a contingency basis.  This means that you will not have to pay your lawyer anything up front, and he or she might even pick up some of the initial expenses for your case, such as the fees for ordering a police report or filing a complaint.  Only when your case reaches a satisfying conclusion will your attorney seek to be reimbursed for expenses incurred and paid for services rendered, usually as a percentage of your final verdict or settlement. 

Dealing with an insurance company can be an intimidating prospect even when you are at your best, but letting a capable lawyer take the wheel while you are in a weakened state may be wisest course to take if you hope to get back to normal.  

Fighting for the Innocent Victims of Negligence 

A car accident can be a devastating event, and it can be even more devastating when it compromises your ability to think clearly.  If you are still reeling from a concussion you sustained in a crash, get in touch with the dedicated Indiana car accident lawyers at Hensley Legal Group, who have been fighting for the innocent victims of negligence for more than 25 years. 

To schedule a free consultation with an accomplished Indiana car accident attorney, please call or text us at (317) 472-3333, chat with us online, or fill out our contact form today.